Italian Slang: C

Italian Slang Dictionary: intro A B C D E F G I L M N O P Q R S T U V X Z

Caca

[ca-ca] Means poop, of course. Used with/by children, or ironically.

Cacchio

[KAHK-yo] A mild replacement for cazzo.

Cagare

[cah-GAR-ay] To shit.

  • Si stanno cagando sotto – “They’re shitting themselves below [with fear]”.
  • Non mi caga niente – “He/she doesn’t shit me anything,” i.e. “He/she doesn’t give a shit about me. ” In some areas, this means “I don’t give a shit about him/her” while you would need Non mi caga per niente to mean “he/she doesn’t give a shit about me.”
  • Mi fa cagare – “It makes me shit” – “It disgusts me.”
  • Va a cagare – “Go shit!” Used as an alternative to vaffanculo.

Cagacazzo

[CAH-ga-CAHZ-zo] Cagare + cazzo = “a shit dick”. (???) A rompiballe.

Cagata

[cah-GAH-ta] A shit, used of a worthless event or action or object. Can be used similarly to minchiata or cazzata : Ho fatto una vera cagata (I did something hugely stupid).

Canapa

[CAH-na-pa] Marijuana.

Canna

[CAHN-na] Literally a cane, as in bamboo, but used for a joint/reefer/ doobie – a marijuana cigarette (for which I don’t know the current American slang!).

Casino

[cah-ZEE-no] This has two basic meanings: “a lot” or “a mess”.

  • Mi piaci un casino is a slangy (but not rude) way to say “I like you a lot.”
  • Io ci sono stato un casino di volte = “I’ve been there a ton of times.”
  • E’ stato un casino = “It was a huge mess.”

Not to be confused with casino’ (the accent on the final o indicates that the stress is on that syllable, so pronounce it [cah-zee-NO]). This means casino in the American sense – a place where you gamble.

Cavolo

[CAH-voh-low] Literally, cabbage. Used as a mild replacement for cazzo: Non si sa che cavolo vuole (“No one knows what the heck he wants”).

  • Col cavolo! – Literally, “With cabbage!” but used as “Like heck!”

Cazzarola

[CAHTZ-a-roll-a] Another mild replacement for cazzo, used when you realize in the middle of the phrase that you shouldn’t say cazzo in present company. The Italian equivalent of using “frick” for “fuck”.

Cazzata

[caht-ZAH-tah] Something stupid. Ho fatto/detto una cazzata – I did/said something stupid. As Dario Fo has pointed out, a cazzata is something stupid, whereas a figata is something great. (Thank Alice Twain for that tip!) See also minchiata.

Cazzo

[CAHT-zoh] The quintessential Italian swearword, the one you’ll probably hear most often. A vulgar term for penis, but used in many contexts much as “fuck” is used in English:

  • Che cazzo vuoi? – “What dick you want?” – What the fuck do you want?
  • Che cazzo! “What dick!” – WTF!
  • Non rompermi il cazzo – “Don’t bust my dick” – Don’t hassle me.
  • Testa di cazzo – dickhead
  • Cazzo! – Shit!
  • Non fa un cazzo – He/she/it doesn’t do shit. Hence, fancazzista – one who does nothing.
  • Stare sul cazzo – “To stay on one’s dick” – to annoy terribly.
  • Sono cazzi tuoi – “Those are your dicks” – That’s your problem.
  • Fa i cazzi tuoi – “Do your own dicks” – mind your own business. If you want to be a little politer, say Fa i cavoli tuoi.
  • Cazzi amari – “bitter dicks” – bad stuff.

Cazzo d’Oro

[… doro] “The golden prick.” Said of a man who marries money by dint of his sexual prowess, at which point he can attaccare il cappello.

Chiappe

[KYAHP-pay] Butt cheeks. Often used in muovere le chiappe – move your butt, get a move on. Or alzare le chiappe – lift your butt up (out of that chair and do something). Chiappe can be used as a politer substitution for culo. It can also be a surname!

Cesso

[CHESS-oh] A rude word for toilet, but also used to describe a very disgusting place or a very ugly woman.

Chiavare

[kya-VA-ray] To fuck.

Citrullo

[chih-TROOL-oh] Derived from cetriolo (cucumber) – used of somone large, lumpy, and rather flavorless/dense. You can use this in polite company – just don’t let the person you’re referring to hear you!

Coglionare

[coal-YONE-ar-ay] To make a fool of, see coglione below.

Coglione

[coal-YONE-ay] A vulgar term for testicle, but also used to mean idiot (Che coglione! – “What an idiot!”). Apr 5, 2006 – Used in this sense by Berlusconi to define people who intended to vote against him in the recent election (which he lost, barely). Il Corriere della Sera translates coglione as “dickhead.”

  • Fuori dai coglioni – “Get out of my balls” (“stop bugging me,” but on the rudeness scale equivalent to “fuck off”). As in the political cartoon shown above, worn by people intending to vote against Berlusconi: “Us morons, him out of our hair.” For a milder version, use fuori dalle palle.
  • Non rompermi i coglioni – “Don’t bust my balls.” (Don’t hassle me.) For a slightly politer version, substitute palle or scatole, milder terms for balls.
  • Bisogna avere i coglioni quadrati – “You need to have square balls” (a lot of nerve/guts).

Controcazzi

[CON-tro-CAHT-zi] “Counter-dicks”. Used in the phrase Con i controcazzi, meaning “with every possible accessory, fail-safe, feature, etc.”

Cornuto

[cor-NOO-toh] “Horned” – literally, “cuckolded, betrayed.” Used similarly to the American “loser” – but MUCH more offensive. More used in southern Italy than northern, with the accompanying “Hook ’em Horns” hand gesture.

Cozza

[KOTZ-ah] Literally, “mussel” (shellfish), but used for an ugly woman. Funny that there’s no equivalent for a really ugly guy…

Cozze, alle

[AHL-lay KOTZ-ay] Literally “at the mussels” (as in the mollusk you eat), but used to mean exhausted, done in, or in a mess. (This phrase is not particularly rude – nobody’s shocked by shellfish. Unless maybe it means “only ugly women are left at this party” or something to that effect.)

Crucchi

[KROOK-kee] A nasty word for Germans, exactly like “Krauts” in English. (I’m sure they have their own nasty words for Italians…)

Cuccare

[KOOK-kar-ay] To rimorchiare successfully. This is a Lombard/Milanese useage.

Culattone

[cool-laht-TONE-ay] Derived from culo, roughly translates as ass bandit. A rude word for a gay man.

Culo

[COOL-oh] Ass or asshole, but also used to mean luck. Che culo! therefore does not mean “What an ass!” but “What luck!” or “You’re so lucky!”

Also used in Gli faremo un culo cosi’ – “We’ll make them an asshole this big” (with hands held apart to show just how big): “We’ll rip them a new one.”

Mettilo nel culo – “Put it in your ass”, similar to vaffanculo, is equivalent to the American “Shove it”.

19 thoughts on “Italian Slang: C

  1. Glen Copper

    My mother’s family came from a very small place in Piemonte in 1897. She used two Italian words or phrases when she was angry. Caduta and Bossa ma chi (I don’t know if I’m spelling correctly for she never wrote them down.) But she said they translated into “Shit” and “kiss my ass.” respectively. I know that caduta means to fall and i can see the connection there, and assumed that Bossa translated as “to kiss.” I was hoping someone could correct or affirm my assumptions.

  2. Asriel

    I think she was sayng someting like “Basame el chiù”, she was not speaking standard italian, she was speaking the dialect of the piemonte area, wich I don’t know. I have no Idea of what could be “Caduta”… Only someone who live in or near Turin could know what she was actually saying.

  3. eleonora

    My dear Deidré,

    you don’t say “Fa i cazzi tuoi “, but “Fatti i cazzi tuoi” 😉

    E.

  4. Eleonora

    Scorfano (scorpion-fish)= extremely ugly guy…

    scorfana=cozza

    p.s. the phrase “alle cozze” is probably a regional variant. Never heard in Standard Italian or in the Roman dialect…

  5. Geof

    One of my italian friend told me this “sono sicura che sarai un cicalone” during a conversation about how I’ll look like after a haircut. I wonder what “cicalone” stands for. She is probably kidding and she told me it was slang italian coming from the region she lives in. She also told me it’s a positive meaning word and they usually they this to the guys ! Thanks in advance for your help

  6. Neil

    I remember as a kid one of my relativews drove me through an all black neighborhood and he blurted out, “tutti zizoon!” I know tutti means all but have no idea what the definition of a zizoon is. Has anybody ever heard of this word?

  7. Mike

    Neil, I can’t tell you how to spell tootsoon but I can tell you what it means. It was explained to me over dinner on the top of a castle in Grottommare in Le Marche. It means the blackened end of a stick that is used to stir embers around in a fire. I was assured that it is used more in the Chicago area than in Italy. Pop culture reference is during the first season of The Sopranos, Tony’s mother Livia used the term when she thought her caretaker was stealing from her.

  8. Francis J. Bastone

    When my Calabrian father was angry with me, he used to call me “Schiaveek” which he said could be loosely translated to “the bum” or “scoundrel” or something like that.
    Has anyone ever heard of a term similar to that?

  9. Ed

    Hi. Actually there’s an equivalent…a very ugly guy is a scorfano(scorpionfish/redfish)or a toad(rospo) or un cesso… brutto come uno scorfano, sparisci( get lost )scorfano/rospo/cesso!

  10. Jack

    Mother used to say something like: suppa culo dedt Says it’s put your butt on the floor and bounce? Help me here!

  11. Janelle Casrtroni

    I was going to order a book called Inside Italy or Italy Inside but my power went out before I could order do you know how I can order the book? I would rather order
    by telephone due to security risks.

  12. Deirdre Straughan Post author

    I don’t know about the book (I don’t sell any directly through my site, though there are some links to buy books on Amazon), but you might want to check out my friend Jessica’s site for up-to-date travel and cultural info on Italy: Italy Explained.

  13. Frank Gracioso

    I saw this in the newspaper, can’t remember who the Mafioso guy they were talking to: CHUMBOLONE ( ? spelling ) is the word he used. Appreciate correct pronunciation, spelling, and meaning! I had heard this referenced before regarding an individual , but paid no never mind.

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